BayerThe Bayer Foundation has presented the Otto Bayer Award, complete with its prize money of 75,000 euros, to Professor Frank Glorius. The research scientist at the University of Münster received the award in recognition of the development of an extensive array of groundbreaking catalytic reactions for organic synthesis, facilitating the sustainable synthesis of organic molecules with high levels of selectivity and purity that offer outstanding value for medical and agricultural applications.

Since 1984, the Otto Bayer Award has been presented every two years to world-leading researchers who have made pioneering discoveries within the fields of chemistry and biochemistry. These outstanding scientists are recognized for work that has typically been fundamental to the holistic advancement of their field. The award was established following a generous provision made by Prof. Otto Bayer in his will and continues in his memory.

Frank Glorius’ research focuses on catalysis and functional materials. Catalysis is an efficient and sustainable method of producing organic molecules that can be used as medicines or in agriculture. One research focus is the use of visible light as an energy source for the reactions. In addition, the group develops compounds with tailored functions for application in biological systems or in material sciences and develops data-based computer models to simplify the planning of chemical syntheses.

In her opening speech, Bayer AG Board of Management member Sarena Lin highlighted the need for research and development. "When our company was founded in 1863, there was about one billion people on earth. At the end of 2022, we welcomed the 8 billionth human to this planet. And as you know this is far from a linear growth. And so far, thanks to the work of pioneering innovators that came before us, we have been able to meet the challenges of a growing population. However, more advancements are still required. Tomorrow's challenges will become even greater, and a new era of breakthrough innovation is urgently needed."

Frank Glorius has been a professor at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Münster since 2007. He has already received numerous awards for his successful scientific engagement in research, such as the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the German Research Foundation (2013) and the Gay Lussac Humboldt Prize from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (2019). He has been one of the most cited researchers worldwide in chemistry for eight years.

2022 Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker Award

Professor Antje Boetius, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven, is the winner of the Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker Award. This award is being presented for the first time, as it was established in 2021 in honor of Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker’s 80th birthday. The Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker Award for enhancing the impact of science for the benefit of society comes with prize money of 3,000 euros, plus 10,000 euros for future projects. Antje Boetius is receiving the award in recognition of her outstanding public engagement, policy advice and scientific communication across a broad range of topics, particularly including the impact of climate change, biodiversity losses and ocean health.

Antje Boetius is a polar and deep-sea researcher and the Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research. As Professor of Geomicrobiology and Head of the Joint Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, she is involved in the MARUM Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bremen. Boetius has participated in 50 expeditions on international research vessels. Her recent research focuses on the effects of climate change on the Arctic Ocean and the biodiversity of the deep sea. She is the recipient of many awards, including the German Research Foundation's Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Communicator Prizes and the German Environmental Award 2018, and she was also presented with the Federal Cross of Merit in 2019. She is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and other national and international academies and an active science communicator.

2022 Early Excellence in Science Awards

In addition to the Otto Bayer Award, the Bayer Foundation also presented the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Awards (EESAs). Sarena Lin, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG, presented the EESAs to the prizewinners.

The award in the Biology category went to Dr. Claudia Bonfio (University of Strasbourg, France) for her landmark achievements in origin of life studies demonstrating the viability of prebiotic ion-sulfur peptide catalysis. Her work on self-assembly of prebiotic biomolecules has the potential to enable a biochemical systems approach toward the in vitro assembly of advanced primitive cells such as stem cells.

Dr. Mark Levin (University of Chicago, USA) was the winner of the award in the Chemistry category in recognition of his breakthrough research on the highly selective skeletal editing of complex organic molecules using a wide range of chemical modalities. This technology enables facile modification of existing compound libraries, rapidly providing access to new chemical space and biologically active compounds.

In the Medical Sciences category, the award went to Dr. Yanira Mendez Gomez (University of Cambridge, UK) for her pioneering utilization of multicomponent reactions allowing the assembly of highly complex bioconjugates such as multivalent antibacterial vaccines or antibody-drug conjugates, constituting a great contribution to new ways of producing vaccines.

The award in the Data Science in the Life Sciences category went to Dr. Mohammad Lotfollahi (Helmholtz Institute Munich, Germany) for his innovative development of machine learning algorithms in the context of computational biology. His work advances the understanding of large-scale single-cell omics data in health and disease and will ultimately facilitate the advancement of precision medicine and AI-assisted drug discovery.

The award winners were selected by the Bayer Foundation’s Science Council, which is made up of the following members: Professor Edith Heard (Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg), Professor Regine Kahmann (Director of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg), Professor Lothar Willmitzer (Director of the Molecular Plant Physiology Department at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm), Professor Dirk Trauner (Janice Cutler Chair in Chemistry and Professor of Neuroscience and Physiology at New York University in the United States) and Professor Patrick Cramer (Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen and Chairman of the Bayer Foundation’s Board of Trustees).

About the Bayer Foundation

The prizes are awarded by the Bayer Foundation. The foundation sees itself as a promoter of innovation and pioneering spirit at the interface between industry, academia and civil society. The foundation’s objectives include the recognition of outstanding research achievements, the promotion of talented scientists and support for innovative school projects. The foundation honors outstanding research achievements every two years with the Otto Bayer Award and in alternate years with the Hansen Family Award, each of which carries a cash prize of EUR 75,000. In addition, the foundation presents two awards to outstanding scientists in the early stages of their careers. One is the international Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award in the categories of Biology, Chemistry, Medical Sciences and, since 2020, Data Science in the Life Sciences, with prize money of EUR 10,000 in each case. The second is the Bayer Thrombosis Research Award, which honors talented scientists who make special contributions to the field of thrombosis research. This is awarded every two years and comes with prize money of EUR 30,000. The newest award is the Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker Award for enhancing the impact of science for the benefit of society which is presented bi-annually. The award comes with a prize money of EUR 3,000 plus EUR 10,000 for future activities.

About Bayer

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to help people and the planet thrive by supporting efforts to master the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. Bayer is committed to driving sustainable development and generating a positive impact with its businesses. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. The Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2021, the Group employed around 100,000 people and had sales of 44.1 billion euros. R&D expenses before special items amounted to 5.3 billion euros.